Canadian Dinosaur Museum Faces Extinction

April 30, 2018 11:47 am Last Updated: May 1, 2018 10:13 am

VICTORIA—A dinosaur museum in the tiny northeast British Columbia community of Tumbler Ridge is facing a struggle against extinction as local politicians and residents feud over funding, operation, and development of the potential tourism gold mine.

The District of Tumbler Ridge council denied the museum its annual funding grant of $200,000 last month, essentially leaving the non-profit, largely volunteer-run society with few options but to shut down.

Tumbler Ridge mayor Don McPherson said that after almost 20 years of providing grants to the museum, council needed to express unhappiness with the operation, and withholding the money was the best way to that.

“We had some issues about how this was being spent,” he said in an interview. “It’s a lot of money. We funded this museum for about 18 years. It’s to the tune of about $2.5 million.”

An April 10 open letter from the council to the community explained the district’s attempts over the past decade to get the museum to change its operations from science-based to tourism-friendly.

“Council feels that the museum needs to be a place that children can go to have fun,” the letter says.

But Dr. Charles Helm, a family physician and member of the board on the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, said he fears the community’s dinosaur dreams are in danger of disappearing.

“I think it’s really precious for people to try and work together for a solution and that we don’t lose this,” he said. “I think there’s a very real risk that it’s all going to fall apart and we’re going to lose everything.”

Helm said the society is looking far and wide for creative solutions to reopen the museum.